NI is now introducing instrument driver FPGA extensions, a new feature of the NI-RFSA and NI-RFSG instrument drivers you can use to customize the VST FPGA capabilities in LabVIEW while preserving the full feature set of the instrument driver APIs (see Figure 2).
Figure 2. Instrument driver FPGA extensions bridge between the unparalleled flexibility of an open FPGA and the compatibility of standard instrument drivers. You get the best of both worlds in a user-friendly way.
An abstraction layer in the FPGA source code implements the default FPGA capabilities required by the NI-RFSA/RFSG API while exposing the relevant control and data signals necessary to enhance automated test applications. Test engineers can add application-specific FPGA IP to the base VST FPGA design and then independently control this IP from their host programs in parallel with NI-RFSA/RFSG API calls, as demonstrated in Figure 3 below.
Figure 3. Application-specific FPGA IP added to the base VST FPGA design can be independently controlled from host programs in parallel with NI-RFSA/RFSG API calls.
This architecture enables a variety of application-specific enhancements that take advantage of the parallelism, low-latency control, and processing performance of the VST FPGA. These enhancements include custom and/or novel instrument capabilities such as frequency mask triggering; better system integration through hardware-timed device under test (DUT) control and the deterministic triggering of other instruments; accelerated test throughput with FPGA-based measurements and coprocessing; and even closed-loop or protocol-aware tests in which the instrumentation hardware responds to the DUT in real time.